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Resolute reading
Titles celebrate, explore and relive local experiences


January 2013

Southeastern Wisconsin has a wealth of interesting architecture, towns and people. Some local authors have written about a few of them in some newly published works.

'Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher' by Paul Hoffman

Growing up in usually peaceful Wauwatosa, Paul Hoffman heard about the tragic — and unsolved — murder of 8-year-old Buddy Schumacher that happened decades earlier. "When I was little, my family bought a house from Buddy Schumacher’s father. The old lady next door used to tell me that she knew who murdered Buddy," Hoffman says. The police investigation resulted in charges against two men who were never prosecuted after witnesses refused to testify. Years passed, Hoffman became a journalist and moved away to Columbus, Ind., but he never forgot about Buddy. "I kept planning to write the book, but life always got in the way. Finally, four years ago, I decided it was time. There were just too many questions," he says.

Hoffman’s research led him to some of Schumacher’s relatives who were eager to share their memories. "Two of his nephews contributed so much information, I am really in their debt," he says. "There is still more to learn, but I’m saving that for the movie." The book is available on 

'Cedarburg' by Barb Joosse and Renee Graef

A deep affection for small-town life in Cedarburg prompted internationally known children’s author Barb Joosse and illustrator Renée Graef to celebrate it in a new book. "‘Cedarburg’ is about a little gang of pals having an adventure. The characters are animals rather than humans, but if you look closely, you might recognize some familiar characters in the town," Joosse says. Although aimed at children, adults will have a wonderful time reading the story and enjoying the colorful illustrations. "This book has been hand-crafted by Renée and me, a true collaboration. It’s a valentine to the town we love," she says. The book can be purchased in locations throughout Cedarburg, and all proceeds go to the endowment of the Cedarburg Cultural Center.

Joosse also recently collaborated on an album for children with a songwriting team from Nashville. "Some of the songs are connected to my books," she says. Even more exciting, the album is on the first ballot for a Grammy Award.

'Pabst: An Excavation of Art' by Paul Bialas

After a look at this coffee table book about the iconic Pabst Brewery, you’d never know that it was conceived and designed by an amateur photographer and author. Paul Bialas, a pharmaceutical representative who takes photos in his spare time, had been intrigued for years by the old, empty Pabst Brewery buildings and what they meant to Milwaukee’s history and culture. "I thought I might put together a book for myself and some of my friends, but the project took on a life of its own," Bialas says. Included are six chapters of photos of the brew house, malt house, bottle house, administration buildings, Pabst Farms and the Pabst Mansion. "Walking through those old buildings, I could feel the ghosts of the workers. Some of the rooms still had items belonging to them," he says.

Bialas managed to interview some former Pabst employees who shared their memories of the old days, and some of those conversations are included on a CD that accompanies the book. To top it off, the introduction was written by Pabst heir August U. Pabst. "I spent more than 300 hours completing this project," Bialas says. Bialas will be signing his books at Best Place Milwaukee on Jan. 26. See for more details or find the book at

‘Historic Milwaukee Public School Houses’ by
Robert Tanzilo

Writer and man-about-town for, Bobby Tanzilo has always been interested in the good old days. As a mass comm major, he specialized in history. But Tanzilo really got into it all to learn more about his extended Italian family and expects to write a book about them some day.

Another of Tanzilo’s works already has an ethnic touch. His "The Milwaukee Police Station Bombing of 1917" (The History Press, 2010) dealt with the city’s Italian anarchists.

However, his latest volume, "Historic Milwaukee Public School Houses," is much more benign. Also with The History Press, the book came out this past summer and showcases many of these architectural gems and their great architects. The idea germinated out of his youthful experiences attending classes in old school buildings.

In this case, the process came together quickly. "I saw a picture of Garfield Avenue School somewhere and realized that even though I drive past it all the time, I’d never really stopped to look at it," he recalls. That led to a blog posting about it, which led to additional commentaries. Facebook friends, seeing his photos, said he should write a book. So Tanzilo pitched the idea to The History Press and they said, "Do it!"

"I was so interested in this subject that I never really had trouble finding time to get it together," he says. "I was lucky that MPS’ facilities and maintenance division has a pretty good archive and really amazingly friendly and helpful folks that let me in and trusted me to treat the archive with respect. There’s no way I could have done this book without them." — Martin Hintz


This story ran in the January 2013 issue of: